I have called for VAT reform in the interest of Ireland’s health

In 2015 the Royal College of Physicians warned that Ireland could become the most obese country in Europe by 2030 if urgent action is not taken.

In light of such warnings, Ireland needs to introduce more meaningful changes.

I was extremely taken aback to find that bottled water is taxed at the Standard rate of VAT of 23%, while drinks such as chocolate milk, which contains 18.8g of sugar per serving, is taxed at the Zero rate of VAT (0%).

Furthermore, food products such as Nutella spread, which contains 50% sugar, are also taxed at the Zero rate of tax.

I commend the 2017 Budget announcement that a sugar tax will be introduced in Ireland in the future.

However, I believe a sugar tax needs to be fast tracked. With warnings such as those from the Royal College of Physicians, which came almost two years ago, we cannot afford to wait any longer.

Naturally healthy products, such as bottled water, should not be subject to the standard rate of VAT while food products with high sugar contents are taxed at the Zero rate of VAT.

Therefore, I am calling on the Minister to re-evaluate and reform the VAT rates on these products at the earliest possible date in order to actively address the Ireland’s growing issue of obesity and related illnesses

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